Senators urge Trump to honor SRE deal

By Erin Voegele | November 18, 2019

A group of six Midwestern senators send a letter to President Trump on Nov. 15 renewing their call for the administration to take corrective action in its Renewable Fuel Standard rulemaking to uphold the agreement reached between Trump and the senators on Sept. 12.

The letter opens by thanking Trump for his commitment to U.S. farmers and the RFS as well as his work to ensure year-round E15 sales. “However, as you well know, this progress will be erased unless the [U.S. EPA] begins to account for small refinery waivers (SREs) when setting future blending obligations.”

The letter references a Sept. 12 meeting in the Oval Office that “resulted in a restorative framework for EPA to incorporate in a supplemental rule” and notes the meeting resulted in a multi-point roadmap for getting the RFS back on track.

“The reforms were built on a foundation of ensuring that at least 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel are blended, accounting for waivers by using a three-year rolling average of actual volumes waived by SREs,” the senators wrote. “The framework would also reduce barrier to market, such as burdensome labeling requirements and fuel pump limitations, as well as coordinate infrastructure investment.”

Within the letter, the senators stress that the proposed supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking released by EPA last month falls far short of what was agreed to in the Oval Office. “This assessment is shared by ethanol, biodiesel, and other agricultural stakeholders across the heartland and is confirmed by leading market indicators,” they wrote.

“EPA’s proposal would only account for gallons waived per the recommendation of the Department of Energy (DOE),” the senators continued. “Under the previous leadership of former Administrator Scott Pruitt and continued by Administrator [Andrew] Wheeler, EPA has issued SREs far beyond the annual recommendations of DOE. If this waiver regime is continued and the supplemental rule is not changed to reflect the agreement made around the Resolute Desk on [Sept.] 12, not all SREs will be accounted for, meaning our stakeholders and rural communities will continue to suffer compounded economic harm, biofuel plant closure, and lost commodity demand. We urge the administration to take the corrective action necessary to produce a final supplemental rule that will account for all SREs.

“This supplemental rulemaking is an opportunity to definitively restore integrity to the RFS, provide certainty for American agriculture, and further bolster our energy independence,” the senators said. “We are confident that reverting to the agreed upon framework to account for actual waived gallons will deliver on your agenda to support thousands of agriculture jobs throughout the Midwest and nation.”

The letter is signed by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Thune’s website.